CHANHASSEN, MN – Surprise guest George Clinton kicked off the festivities at the first annual Celebration at Prince’s home and studio, Paisley Park. The Celebration promised to be a tribute to the iconic late musician at the studio where he lived, worked, and sadly, died, last year at the age of 57.
The four-day event includes panel discussions, performances and unseen video footage of Prince’s bandmates and collaborators including The Revolution, The NPG Bands and other collaborators. Tyka Nelson, Prince’s sister was in attendance as the event kicked off on Thursday, the day before the anniversary of his untimely death on April 21st last year.
Clinton, who once recorded for Prince’s Paisley Park Records, is still in fine funk form at the age of 75. His all-ages band included rappers and a regrouped Brides Of Funkenstein or something similar. While there was no mothership or diapers worn on stage, a loc’ed brother in an outfit that could only be described as fluffy pimpwear, gyrated on stage.
Clinton ran through stock Parliament/Funkadelic hits like “Atomic Dog” “We Want The Funk” “Knee Deep” “Flashlight” and more with his crack P-Funk band, who also did a few energetic hip-hop songs. (They likely had Prince cringing from above as he famously outlawed swearing at Paisley.)
Model Damaris Lewis, Prince’s friend, collaborator and muse, hosted, opening the event up with a 45-minute film from Prince’s 2014 Amsterdam concert with his last band, the all-female rock band 3rd EyeGirl. She said she still hears Prince’s voice in her head saying ‘No cell phones’ (phones and photography are not permitted at Paisley Park) were and that the audience and fans are just as significant to his keeping his legacy alive as any of his collaborators.
Those collaborators included the different incarnations of the New Power Generation band. The first day included a panel with members from 1989-2000 – rapper Tony M., guitarist/bassist Levi Seacer, keyboardist Morris Hayes and Game Boyz dancer Damon Dickson. Each shared hilarious stories of their time in the band.
Hayes, who started out playing with Carmen Electra, talked about being invited to hang with Prince and other members of the NPG one night at a lavish penthouse suite in Germany. He and another band member were seated on the suite’s bed, watching the movie of 3 Chains Of Gold. At one point, Hayes recounted, Prince got in the bed, near the top. Hayes said that when he joked that he could now say he was in bed with Prince, like so many people wanted to be, Prince got out of the bed.
The event continues through Sunday with more panels, performances and unreleased footage to be shown. Prince will be also celebrated in his hometown of Minneapolis Friday, with events planned all over the city, including a party at First Avenue, the club where he did the live versions of what would become the Purple Rain soundtrack and with concerts by collaborators Shelby J. and Andy Allo at the Dakota, the jazz club where Prince attended his last live show. Click HERE for more info.
In other Prince news today, he’s the top-selling artist of 2016, beating out sales powerhouse Adele. In the month after his passing, he sold 5.65 million albums, based on Nielsen data. While that figure includes digital sales, he sold 2.3 million traditional albums, narrowly surpassing Adele to become 2016’s top artist.
Sales of the six-track EP Deliverance, released via iTunes by Prince’s former engineer George Ian Boxill, were halted when the estate sued, saying Boxill released the songs he recorded with Prince illegally. Still, millions of fans already downloaded the track by pre-ordering the entire EP, and since Boxill is alleging that the cease and desist order applies to the entire EP, not the single, you can still buy it HERE.
PHOTOS: Steve Parke for Paisley Park